Mobile Menu

Andlinger Center Events

Highlight Seminar: How Might Controlled Fusion Fit into the Emerging Low-Carbon Electricity Markets of the Mid-21st Century? – George Tynan

Date: December 9, 2021

Time: 12:30 p.m. - 1:30 pm

Location: Maeder Hall Auditorium

“How Might Controlled Fusion Fit into the Emerging Low-Carbon Electricity Markets of the Mid-21st Century?”

George Tynan

Kazuo Iwama Endowed Chair, Distinguished Professor of Engineering Physics, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department, Jacobs School of Engineering, UC San Diego

We examine the characteristics that fusion-based generation technologies will need to have if they are to compete in the emerging low-carbon energy system of the mid-21st century. It is likely that the majority of future electric energy demand will be provided by the lowest marginal cost energy technology—which in many regions will be stochastically varying renewable solar and wind electric generation coupled to systems that provide up to a few days of energy storage. Firm low-carbon or zero-carbon resources based on gas-fired turbines with carbon capture, advanced fission reactors, hydroelectric and perhaps engineered geothermal systems will then be used to provide the balance of load in a highly dynamic system operating in competitive markets governed by merit-order pricing mechanisms that select the lowest-cost supplies to meet demand. These firm sources will have overnight capital costs in the range of a few $/Watt, be capable of cycling down to a fraction of their nameplate capacity, operate profitably at low utilization fraction, and have a suitable unit size of order 100MWe. If controlled fusion using either magnetic confinement or inertial confinement approaches is to have any chance of providing a material contribution to future electrical energy needs, it must demonstrate these key qualities and at the same time prove robust safety characteristics that avoid the perceived dread risk that plagues nuclear fission power, avoid generation of long-lived radioactive waste, and demonstrate highly reliable operations.

George R. Tynan holds the Kazuo Iwama Endowed Chair and is a Distinguished Professor of Engineering Physics in the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department of the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering and is currently serving as Department Chair. He received his Ph.D. in 1991 from the Department of Mechanical, Aerospace, and Nuclear Engineering at the University of California, Los Angeles. He then spent several years studying the effect of sheared flows on plasma turbulence on experiments located in the Federal Republic of Germany and at Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory. He then worked in industry developing advanced plasma sources for use in semiconductor manufacturing, and joined the UCSD faculty in 1999.

His primary research focus is on the physics and technology issues that must be resolved to enable energy generation from controlled nuclear fusion. He studies the fundamental physics of turbulent transport in hot confined plasmas using both smaller-scaled laboratory plasma devices as well as large-scale fusion experiments located around the world. In addition, he is investigating how solid material surfaces interact with the boundary region of fusion plasmas, and how the materials are modified by that interaction. He is also interested in the larger issue of transitioning to a sustainable energy economy based upon a mixture of efficient end-use technologies, large-scale deployment of renewable energy sources, and incorporation of a new generation of nuclear technologies such as advanced fission and/or fusion reactor systems. He also co-directs the UC San Diego Deep Decarbonization Initiative.

Boxed lunches will be served at 12:00 noon in Maeder Hall lobby.
For the complete line up, visit